There's not too many more of these. Thanks for your patience with my ranting.
One piece of advice – listen to the old people. When in doubt, ask the old people.
I say this today as I remember yesterday. We went to the Bar Mitzvah of a neighbor boy, and when we entered the temple, I could tell that you were unsure of what do to. One thing I’ve learned in my adult life – always, always watch the old people. They know what to do, they know what to say, and if you ask, they never mind telling you the correct time to sit or stand, bow or walk.
So many times in my life, I didn’t appreciate the elderly. Goodness knows, they don’t always represent well – but, really, no age represents well. For every grumpy old person, there’s an equally grumpy young person. As I’ve matured, though, I’ve come to see that those who have reached a certain age should be admired. Anything in my life that I’ve struggled with, an older person has done it before and could probably have helped me, if only I’d let them.
So, dear daughter – ask the old people. And truly take the time to listen to them. Don’t be in such a hurry that you listen with half an ear, thinking about where you need to go and what you need to do.
Just sit. And listen.
Always bring a book.
Allow me to explain.
Everywhere you go, there is apt to be some down time. You will be early and the person you are meeting is running late. The doctor’s office had an emergency. You arrived for carpool and found your clock was off.
Whatever the situation, you have a few minutes. What will you do with that time?
You will surely have your phone, for I can never see you without your phone. Instead of catching up on your gossip, take that time to grow your mind. You don’t have to read War and Peace – even a chick lit novel will do. The very act of reading causes minute changes to the brain. In even the most basic of books, you might come across an unfamiliar word, and looking it up will increase your vocabulary. Historical fiction, as campy and stupid as it is, is usually well researched – so skip the sex parts if you don’t like them. Or highlight them if you do.
I’ve always been an avid reader, as was my own mother. I may not have completed my college degree, but I’d venture to say that I’m a good deal smarter, thanks to the vast amount of books I’ve read over the course of my life. I’ve read trashy novels that were so poorly written and full of sexual encounters that they embarrassed me. I’ve read science nonfiction that was so wordy it hurt my brain. But each and every one of those books taught me something.
Always keep a book with you. In your purse or in your car, on your bedside table and near your couch.
You will never regret it.
One day in the future, you will make this call to me. “Um, Mom? I’m so sorry for the way that I treated you when I was a teenager. I was rude and I’m sorry.
You don’t believe me now and you won’t – until you have a teenage daughter of your own. That teenage daughter, upon hearing that you want to go out and she needs to stay home, might say things like, Why are you going out with them? They aren’t your friends and they don’t care about you! Don’t you know that everyone laughs at you for trying to fit in with them?
Hurtful things. Rude things. Things that you will wish you could take back when you are 40 and have a daughter who acts as if you are stupid and dumb and not worth any kind thoughts.
Remember this time.
And I accept your apology.
Courtesy may be old fashioned, but it exists for a reason. It is still present because it is still necessary, In fact, I’d venture to say that if courtesy doesn’t make the world go ‘round, at least it makes the journey more tolerable.
If you come to the door at the same time as another person, hold the door. And I don’t mean go through the door and hold it when you are on the other side – by doing so, you are asking the person to walk around you and often the door frame isn’t big enough for both of you. Instead, let the person behind you pass first. It only takes a second, and doesn’t make you tardy for anything. So what if he gets ahead of you in line? It’s not going to kill you to wait a couple of extra seconds.
Say please. Say thank you. Say yes ma’am and no sir, even if you aren’t in the military, and most especially if you are dealing with an elderly person. Let other drivers merge in your lanes, and never ever ever mutter under your breath.
You will never regret being courteous, but you will feel guilty if you are rude.
I promise. And you’ll think of me when you do feel guilty.